Iceblinks and Water Skies by Nick Cobbing


Front Members' Room 12/1/2013 - 9/2/2013

Exhibitions are open Monday to Friday 10:00-19:00, Saturday 10:00-15:00, unless otherwise stated.

Coinciding with the ScanLAB exhibition Frozen Relic: Arctic Works in the AA Gallery, Nick Cobbing's photographs of the Greenpeace expedition, which took ScanLAB, Nick Cobbing and a team of scientists from Cambridge University to record arctic ice floes, will be exhibited in the Front Members' Room.

'Each year I return to the sea ice landscape, a little bit more has melted away. I've come to realise that it's impossible to have a fixed relationship with sea ice, especially when travelling with the scientists who broke the news of its shrinking.

It's virtually impossible to return to the exact same spot on sea ice because the ice drifts with the wind and ocean currents. In that sense, none of the landscapes photographed are permanent; regardless of climate change, they will swiftly change beyond recognition. Satellite photographs show exactly where and when the ice cover has receded, so the photojournalist is relieved of the burden of proof. Instead I hope to convey what it feels like to walk on a moving ocean, how scientists worked in this remote laboratory and how the ice-covered ocean might colour the light.

This curiosity lures me back again and again, the trips I've made have become an annual pilgrimage while my polar obsession deepens with each visit. Braced against the wind, looking out from the frozen deck of the ship, I came to understand how an 'iceblink' and a 'water sky' could trick the eye, or to recognise formations like finger-rafting and pancake ice.

The images on display were made during three trips to the edge of the sea ice in the Fram Strait between Greenland and Svalbard. Two of those expeditions were facilitated by Greenpeace, who I joined as expedition photographer, while another trip was made with The Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø. All the expeditions were made via an icebreaking ship.

Some of the images were made from the deck of a ship, or on the rare occasions I was able to walk out from the ship onto the sea ice, usually after the ship had been fixed fast to the ice edge, or driven into it so that it became fixed between floes.

Other images were made from a helicopter launched from the ship's deck, often with a remote camera that I fixed below the aircraft before the flight. These pictures benefit from a random component where the flight-path and timer switch play a part in choosing the image. In editing those pictures I tried to show the diversity of forms, the complexity of growing and shrinking sea ice.'

See more at Nick Cobbing's website:

Photo: Nick Cobbing

Photos: Sue Barr

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